A while back I received a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Personal Workstation 433a and finally had some time to get it up and running. For those that are unaware, the 433a has a 433mhz Alpha 21164A (EV56) that is capable of running Windows NT 4 and with the right bios can run OpenVMS. The 433au model has the OpenVMS capable bios out of the box. I am not familiar with the process, but from what I gather it isn't terribly difficult.

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Front View

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Rear View

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Inside View

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Mainboard

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Mainboard (Back)

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Mainboard Inside

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - RAM Slots

Digital Personal Workstation 433a -Diamond Stealth 64 (S3 Trio64) Video Card

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - 32mb PC100 ECC SDRAM Stick

Being enamored by the prospect of running Windows NT 4 on a non-x86 system and being my favorite operating system, I jumped at the chance of getting it on the 433a.

Microsoft Windows NT 4 Workstation

Unfortunately, the 433a came without a hard drive and being from 1996, there is no SATA support only EIDE and with the right card Ultra Wide 2 SCSI. Not having any spare Ultra 320 SCSI drives, I used a SATA -> PATA adapter on a 500gb Hitachi SATA II laptop drive I had laying around. Knowing this would technically limit it to 16mb/sec outside of Disk <-> Buffer operations, I was intrigued about the performance versus putting a "slower" Ultra 320 SCSI drive like a Maxtor Atlas 15k II drive and attaching it to a Ultra Wide 2 SCSI adapter that has a 80mb/sec bandwidth. One day I will pop a U320 drive and compare the disk results.

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - SATA -> PATA Adapter

During shipment the mainboard came loose from the PCI looking connector that it connects to, if you receive a PWS that fails to power on - ensure it is fully connected.

After reseating the mainboard I was greeted with the startup logo:

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - BIOS Image

I entered the "BIOS" and was presented with a very "PC" like screen that I wasn't expecting:

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - System Information

Knowing that the Windows 8 NTFS partitions would be unrecognizable most likely by the Alpha, I proceeded to the Disk Setup and reconfigured the drive with the express setup:

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Express Setup

Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Hard Drive Partitions

Fortunately, the "express" setup was very easy, it configured the drive for use with Windows NT in mind with no manual configuration needed outside of creating a second partition to fill out the remaining space on the hard drive.

After exiting the "bios": Digital Personal Workstation 433a - Bios Boot

In the next post, I'll detail the Windows NT 4 Workstation and subsequent updates required.